Law Pod UK latest episode: Safe as Houses: Depriving children of their liberty
24 February 2023
Restricting the liberty of a child is a serious step only to be taken in the most difficult of circumstances. Children may require secure accommodation by the Local Authority in a variety of circumstances. A child could require urgent mental health treatment in a secure hospital. A child may require strict supervision with a high staff to child ratio, in order to protect them from harm and meet their complex needs. Applications are made where a child poses a significant risk of harm to themselves or others. Applications for secure accommodation or deprivation of liberty orders have increased significantly in recent years. There is now a severe lack of regulated accommodation, and the courts are having to use their inherent jurisdiction to approve DOLS regimes where unregulated placements are the only option.
In Episode 179 of Law Pod UK Lucy McCann speaks to Richard Ager and Clare Ciborowska who examine the current situation and, in particular, consider the case of Re X (Secure Accommodation: Lack of Provision)  EWHC 129 (Fam) in which Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the High Court, gave a scathing Judgment on the provision of secure accommodation to children in England & Wales. The episode also explores the recent decision of Manchester City Council v P ( EWHC 133 (Fam) which considered whether restrictions placed on a child in respect of mobile phone/internet use amounted to a deprivation of liberty.
The episode discusses the new national deprivation of liberty court. The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory recently published this report, analysing the first two months of applications to the national deprivation of liberty court.
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